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Hewlett-Packard Splits

Oct 26

Written by:
26/10/2016 13:42  RssIcon

Josie Wexler looks at where now for the boycott

Hewlett-Packard has been subject to a boycott called by the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) since 2014 due to its involvement in the Israeli occupation in the West Bank.

The company is a leading supplier of surveillance equipment to governments throughout the world. It has been deeply embedded in the Israeli occupation for many years, and has a long list of contracts with the Israeli Ministry of Defence, Ministry of the Interior, the military and the prison service.

Image: HP boycott


One of its areas of business is supplying the equipment used to run the “BASAL” system of checkpoints that Israel uses to limit Palestinians’ freedom of movement.

However, this has now all been thrown into some confusion. In November 2015, Hewlett Packard split into two separate companies. The bit that sells consumer goods, such as PCs and printers, is now called HP Inc., while all the business, government and military services, including those in Israel, are in theory now being undertaken by Hewlett-Packard Enterprise (HPE).

So has HP Inc. cunningly let go of the part of itself that was under attack, like a salamander shedding its tail?

Continue to boycott?

Pretty much all of the organisations involved in the BDS movement, are still advocating boycotting HP products.

Ethical Consumer spoke to Dalit Baum of the American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker group that is part of the BDS movement. Dalit told us that because of the links between the two companies, they have decided to continue to treat HP Inc. as still involved with Hewlett-Packard’s Israeli activities until it confirms that it is not. They have been asking HP Inc. to do so, but it has refused.

Ethical Consumer also contacted HP Inc. and asked for clarification, without success.

There is clearly still close collaboration going on between the two companies, and indeed, major company splits are inevitably going to take a while to complete. Under the ‘Separation and Distribution Agreement’ between HP Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, the companies will continue to provide various services for each other for a two year ‘transition period’ after the separation.

A press release by Meg Whitman, the CEO of Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, stated that it intends to continue sharing contracting and bidding during this period too.

So, at this point, it seems reasonable to treat the two companies as still involved in each other’s activities unless they are prepared to explicitly say otherwise, which it appears that they are not.


Watch this space

Of course, this may change in the future. The two companies are now financially distinct and do not own any of each other’s stock. They have different offices, and Hewlett Packard states in its annual report:

“We are in the process of creating our own, or engaging third parties to provide, systems and services to replace many of the systems and services that HP Inc. provides to us under the Transition Services Agreement.”[1]

Ethical Consumer will keep you updated about the status of the companies and the boycott in the future. If all of the government contracts are taken over entirely by Hewlett-Packard Enterprise and HP Inc. becomes a completely separate company, then the obvious move for the boycott campaign in the UK would be to switch to focusing just on local government procurement. Hewlett-Packard is a huge government contractor in the UK as well as in Israel – indeed, in 2014, it was the highest paid government supplier in the UK.[2] 


See where HP ranks in our new ethical shopping guide to Laptops



1 Hewlett Packard Enterprise, 2015 Annual Report
2 The Guardian, 2014, Which private companies get the most UK government money?







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